spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ ˈspek-​trə How to pronounce spectra (audio) \ or spectrums

Definition of spectrum

1a : a continuum of color formed when a beam of white light is dispersed (as by passage through a prism) so that its component wavelengths are arranged in order
b : any of various continua that resemble a color spectrum in consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic (such as frequency or energy): such as
(3) : the range of frequencies of sound waves
c : the representation (such as a plot) of a spectrum
2a : a continuous sequence or range a wide spectrum of interests opposite ends of the political spectrum
b : kinds of organisms associated with a particular situation (such as an environment)
c : a range of effectiveness against pathogenic organisms an antibiotic with a broad spectrum
on the spectrum
: exhibiting traits associated with autism spectrum disorder … quiet areas and sensory bags with headphones … and other ways to help kids who are on the spectrum cope with unfamiliar, noisy surroundings.— Rachel Molenda … Stephanie Adams, cofounder of the Autism and Asperger's Society, said: "We started the society because we wanted to make a place where people on the spectrum can spend their time and not feel isolated. …"— Kelsey Maxwell

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Synonyms for spectrum

Synonyms

diapason, gamut, range, scale, spread, stretch

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Examples of spectrum in a Sentence

beautiful scarves in all the colors of the spectrum the complete spectrum of opinions on this hotly debated subject

Recent Examples on the Web

On the spectrum of early-’90s indie rock, Phair’s sound fell somewhere between the catchy riffs of the Pixies and perhaps a less frenetic Sleater-Kinney. Los Angeles Times, "11 anticipated music books this fall," 13 Sep. 2019 The film stars Bollywood favorites Ranbir Kapoor as Barfi and Priyanka Chopra as his love interest Jhilmil, a young woman on the autism spectrum. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "20 Bollywood Movies to Move to the Top of Your Watch List," 3 Sep. 2019 Stadiums and other venues are gaining certification to offer respites for those on the autism spectrum who might feel overwhelmed by stimuli like excessive lights and volume levels. Marc Bona, cleveland.com, "‘The Lion King’ sensory-friendly performance set for Saturday," 28 Aug. 2019 In the academy's preschool, children on the autism spectrum socialize with children who are not. Elizabeth Montgomery, azcentral, "St. Dominic Savio Academy to grow with $3,000 USA TODAY NETWORK grant," 27 Aug. 2019 Bike West Hartford, Inc. is working with ASRC to make this year’s event accessible and inviting for children on the autism spectrum. courant.com, "Community News For The West Hartford Edition," 19 Aug. 2019 The Tres Doux Foundation was created by Sherwood Collins and his wife, Amy Collins, inspired by their son, Liam, who is on the autism spectrum. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "The 4th Annual Beignet Fest Returns to New Orleans This October 5th," 15 Aug. 2019 The airwaves in the 6 gigahertz range used by utilities, pipeline operators, police and fire departments and others happen to be ideally positioned on the spectrum to accommodate 5G networks. Millicent Dent And Stephen Cunningham, Houston Chronicle, "Power and tech giants fight over airwaves space in the U.S.," 9 Aug. 2019 On the spectrum Sometimes, risk factors for a disease—such as high blood pressure—eventually get defined as a disease in their own right. Shahid Merali, Quartz, "What exactly is a disease?," 30 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spectrum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of spectrum

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spectrum

New Latin, from Latin, appearance — more at specter

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Statistics for spectrum

Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spectrum

The first known use of spectrum was in 1672

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More Definitions for spectrum

spectrum

noun

English Language Learners Definition of spectrum

: the group of colors that a ray of light can be separated into including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet : the colors that can be seen in a rainbow
technical : an entire range of light waves, radio waves, etc.
: a complete range of different opinions, people, etc.

spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ -​trə \ or spectrums

Kids Definition of spectrum

: the group of different colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet seen when light passes through a prism and falls on a surface or when sunlight is affected by drops of water (as in a rainbow)

spectrum

noun
spec·​trum | \ ˈspek-trəm How to pronounce spectrum (audio) \
plural spectra\ -​trə How to pronounce spectra (audio) \ or spectrums

Medical Definition of spectrum

1a : a continuum of color formed when a beam of white light is dispersed (as by passage through a prism) so that its component wavelengths are arranged in order
b : any of various continua that resemble a spectrum in consisting of an ordered arrangement by a particular characteristic (as frequency or energy): as
c : the representation (as a plot) of a spectrum
2 : a continuous sequence or range specifically : a range of effectiveness against pathogenic organisms — see broad-spectrum, narrow-spectrum

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Comments on spectrum

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